Friday, 4 March 2016
The Sarah Jane Adventures, Season 1 (2007)
The relaunched Doctor Who generated a couple of spin-off TV shows. The first of these was the supposedly more "grown up" Torchwood, which I was never very impressed with. The second was this series, of course, which launched on the same day that Torchwood's first season came to an end. It was produced by Children's BBC and therefore took a very different tack.
I'm pleased to say that I enjoyed this spin-off a lot more than I did Torchwood. In fact, for much of this show's run I liked it more than I did Doctor Who itself.
Sarah Jane Smith was a companion of the Doctor's during that show's original run. In 2006 she made a guest appearance in the relaunched program, where she was shown to have continued her career as a journalist after leaving the Doctor - and also to have continued investigating potential alien threats to Earth. From there, of course, it was only a short step to giving her a show of her own.
That this is a kid-focused show is immediately apparent from the fact that Sarah Jane is joined in her adventures by three high school aged characters - Maria, Luke and Clyde - who not only help her protect the planet but also have to deal with real life issues like divorced parents, fitting in at school, and the like. Thankfully the show deals with the non-alien challenges with a very deft touch. They're included and acknowledged, but not allowed to become the focus of the show. That remains the extra terrestrial threats.
With bright and breezy stories and a charming cast, this is a fun show. Like any series with multiple writers the episodes do vary in quality, but on the whole the first season maintains a consistent tone and is enjoyable throughout. I also think it profits from being able to draw on the vast history of the Doctor Who franchise without being as tied to that history as the main show itself is.
Worth a look, especially if you know any young SF fans.